Free Zones To Develop New Shama Enclave For Exports, AFCETA — Oquaye

Free Zones

The  Ghana Free Zones Authority has signed a memorandum of understanding with a private developer for the development of about 1,500 acres of land designated in Yabiw/Shama in the Western Region.

The proposed investment is estimated at $250 million to $300 million for the development of the designated Special Economic Zones.

The Chief Executive Officer of GFZA, Amb Michael Oquaye Jnr, was speaking at the media briefing to launch the 2023 weeklong investment Celebrations in Accra. This year’s Celebration is on the theme: “GFZA Championing  Export-Led Industrial Growth in the Context of AFCFTA and World Trade.”

The theme was chosen to reflect the government’s focus on export-led industrialization and the AfCFTA implementation.

He pointed out that the investment was expected to provide world-class infrastructure such as roads, electricity with a dedicated power plant, sewage treatment plant, container depot, office complex, and residential complex, among others.

In addition, he said the project, when completed, would lead to the creation of thousands of jobs, and increased foreign exchange earnings for Ghana.

According to the CEO, out of the 217 active companies in the Free Zones enclave, 72 are wholly owned Ghanaian companies, representing 33 percent, 74 were wholly foreign-owned companies, representing 34 percent, and 72 are joint ventures, representing 33 percent.

This is an indication that Ghanaian companies also have the potential to take advantage of the free zone incentives and make a mark in the international market. Saying that the Free Zones programme had been misconstrued as favouring mainly foreign investors.

Mr. Oquaye Jnr. Alluded that the Programme was open to all investors, both foreign and local. With the opportunities that AfCFTA also offers, he seeks to encourage Ghanaian-owned businesses to take advantage of the 1.3 billion African markets to expand their activities. The impact of these achievements on the economy could not be overemphasized.

“As a country, we are currently grappling with a balance of trade deficit and the depreciation of our national currency; therefore, we must increase our exports to earn the needed foreign exchange to stabilize the cedi. Export-led industrial growth was one of the most appropriate strategies to achieve economic development; this had been the mandate of the GFZA.”

Thus, the importance of the Free Zones programme in reversing the country’s balance of trade deficit and the depreciating cedi was vital.

Adding that, the Authority has recognized the potential of the AfCFTA in attracting market-seeking investments and encouraging local businesses to export to the African market.

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The AFCFTA presented Ghana with the opportunity to export to Africa, with an estimated market size of 1.3 billion people. He said in pursuing an export-led industrial growth strategy and the enormous opportunities.

“AfCFTA and the world at large provide, the problems of unemployment, low export earnings, lack of value addition to our natural resources, lack of diversification of our export products, and being an insignificant player in the continental and global value chains can be solved,” he stated.

Regarding their achievements, he said 39 new companies have been licensed and expected to inject an estimated capital of USS230 million into the economy.

In addition, the estimated export earnings from the 39 companies are USS 529 million from an estimated production value of US$ 436 million.

In conclusion, Amb. Michael Oquaye Jnr. Made known that the cumulative exports from the Free Zones enterprise since the programme’s inception stood at USS 27 billion as of 2020.

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